H&M, the global fast fashion giant, has just partnered up with startup re:newcell to become the first brand to begin using their proprietary sustainable fibre Circulose, which is made from discarded textile waste. The fibre will be used to make a garment to be featured in H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection, which will be available for customers this spring. It marks yet another step in the company’s move to adopt a more circular model as consumers become increasingly aware of the footprint of fashion.
Swedish fast fashion brand H&M has just become the first retailer to use Circulose, a new fibre made using discarded textiles produced by Stockholm-based sustainable startup re:newcell. The fibre is unique because it replaces the need to use raw forest material without compromising on the texture and quality in garments. Instead, the dissolving pulp fibres of Circulose are made by recovering cotton from worn-out old clothes, reducing textile and water waste, eliminating the use of microplastics and contribution to deforestation.
The new garment made using Circulose will debut in H&M’s upcoming Conscious Exclusive collection in spring, and the dress will be made using 50% Circulose derived from recycled denim jeans, and 50% viscose from FSC-certified wood.
“This is a major milestone for the industry. For the first time, people will be able to walk into a store and buy clothes made from Circulose. We are immensely proud to do this in partnership with H&M Group, a company with a bold sustainability agenda. Together, we have proven that textile-to-textile recycling at scale works,”said CEO of re:newcell Patrik Lundström.
While Circulose will only be used in one of the garments in the collection, a single garment produced in such commercial scale by a fast fashion company could make a big difference, and at the very least signals that tides are rapidly turning for the fashion industry.
Aside from using Circulose, H&M has made other moves to up their sustainability credentials, including a recent collaboration with Italian biomaterial Vegea to launch a number of handbags and shoes using a bio-vegan soft leather made from the byproducts of wine, which will debut in March alongside the Circulose dress. H&M’s Conscious Collection will additionally feature recycled polyester and a new dyeing process for fabrics involving waste coffee grounds.
Last year, H&M began a major cleanup of their enormous environmental footprint – from landfill waste and plastic pollution to water contamination and carbon emissions – by launching an all-new rental, repair and recycling concept in their Stockholm flagship store. Soon after, H&M Group-owned independent label COS partnered up with Chinese rental fashion subscription platform YCloset to launch a trial rental program in China.
For the fashion giant to continually polish its eco-friendly efforts reflects the appetite for greener solutions, which is driving the current industry-wide explosion of sustainable fashion. In order to retain consumers who are demanding corporate social and environmental responsibility, a host of big names have already jumped on the bandwagon, such as sportswear behemoth Adidas pledging to use recycled fabrics in over half of their products. This was quickly followed by rival Nike, unveiling a collection of “low carbon footprint” vegan sneakers made from waste materials.
Lead image courtesy of H&M.